Covering all the bases

The Sidebar

To whom this may concern — no, wait, that’s too impersonal. I should address the person who’s going to be reading this directly — except I have no idea what that person’s name is.

I hate writing cover letters, which is great for me, because writing a first column is basically like writing a cover letter, except instead of applying for a job, I’m trying to get you to read “The Sidebar,” which is a column about …

Well, I’m stuck — maybe it’s time for a break.

Filling out applications makes me physically nauseous. Reading the word “resume” triggers a primal, lizard-brain panic response in me akin to a lone weasel that catches the scent of a predator on the wind. Every time I tried to work on my college applications, I’d get a stomach ache so bad I’d have to stop after 20 minutes. I had to go to a friend’s house and eat tasty food while working on it in an attempt to Pavlov’s-dog myself into associating the UC website with friends and happiness instead of sheer animal terror.

Every time I write a cover letter, I feel like it’s taken a year off of my life, but I somehow managed to get this job, so I obviously I did something right. Maybe this’ll go better if I just write this column as an actual cover letter.

Dear (please insert your name here),

I know you’re looking for some sort of commentator or writer to fill your mind with humorous observations about life, sometimes referred to as “hot takes,” and I’m here to offer my candidacy for the position. I’m sure you already have a lot of very appealing candidates, such as your uncle’s crazy political Facebook ramblings, the “cellphones are killing the little children” guy on Sproul Plaza or the Sex on Tuesday column.

Now, you’re probably asking, how can I compete with a weekly column about weird sex stuff? The answer is, I can’t. (Application pro-tip: Honesty is always the best policy.)

I know, I’m not doing a great job of selling myself so far.

Actually, cover letters just suck generally. They are just a summary of everything I’m awful at: managing time, following assumed social cues and talking about myself.

It’s not just about what I write, but how I write it. I have to try to predict how I’m going to come off when it gets read, which is like an exercise in mind reading. Except, at least in mind reading, you get to see the person you’re trying to scam into believing you’re credible. With cover letters, it’s kind of just like screaming something nice about yourself into the void and hoping it works out.

This is especially a pain in the ass for me because I have that winning combination of traits and experiences that don’t fall into easy, one-word categories. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a particularly unique, interesting or special person. Though I don’t feel like I’m unusual, the fact that I don’t perfectly fall into easy classifications suddenly throws other people off.

I’m vaguely ethnic, but not enough that anyone can really place me easily.

I’m pretty androgynous and don’t have an obviously gendered name. You can probably tell I’m some sort of queer by looking at me, but I’m not Gay with a capital G.

I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD — if you couldn’t tell — which is either a learning disability or something else, so I guess I’m kind of disabled?

I’m a transfer student, but I only spent one year at a community college right after high school, so I feel a lot closer to a freshman than a junior.

It doesn’t really feel all that weird living my own life, but the fact that I can’t check off a simple, one-word box about myself makes it a lot more complicated to communicate my experiences to other people, which is odd considering that no one ever really fits into these boxes anyways. (Application pro-tip: Everything is a social construct. Fight the system.)

Now, I don’t really intend on making some fantastic commentary critiquing the foundations of society or making any recommendations about how to fix anything. I just figured you could round out the team of interesting, talented writers with unique perspectives with a column written by an androgynous, kind-of-brown person talking about a bunch of pointless bullshit.

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk to you today. I hope that you end up reading my column every week — or at least every time a desperate freshman manages to shove a copy of The Daily Californian into your hands before you can mumble a “No, thank you.” (Application pro-tip: Don’t make eye contact with the livehawkers. If you refuse to acknowledge their humanity, it’s easier to ignore them.)

I look forward to hearing back from you in the form of an angry comment on the Daily Cal website.

Lovingly yours,


KD Mireles writes the Friday column on the ambiguity of categories. Contact them at [email protected] and follow them on Twitter at @kdillonm.